It’s time for another installment of Meeting of the Minds, our semi-regular pecha kucha-style discussion series in which experts share their insight into topics shaping our local cultural landscape. It’s fast-paced, informative cultural fun.

Unless you’ve been living off the grid, riding the rails like an old timey hobo for the last few years, you know Tijuana has undergone a major cultural renaissance. The city that once attracted mostly drunken college kids and people looking for cheap thrills has become a mecca for those who love emerging art, world class cuisine and fascinating, unique experiences. TJ has always been scrappy and resilient, with so much to offer, and now it’s getting the attention it deserves.

On Wednesday, Oct. 22, we will introduce folks to the exciting things happening in Tijuana at our border-centric installment of Meeting of the Minds. We decided that a border conversation needs to happen at the border, so we’re holding Meeting of the Minds at The Front in San Ysidro. Our speakers will cover a variety of topics in rapid-fire presentation setting. They’ll have 20 images projected for 20 seconds each to tell us about art, food, cultural changes, border waits and more.

Get to know our speakers and what they’ll be covering.

Mónica Arreola will be shedding light on the alternative art spaces of Tijuana. An accomplished and celebrated artist in her own right with a master’s degree in modern and contemporary art from the prestigious Casa Lamm Centro de Cultura in Mexico City, Arreola is co-director of 206 Arte Contemporáneo, a gallery located in downtown Tijuana’s Pasaje Revolución. There she highlights the work of Baja California’s emerging artists.

Her gallery and many others have been vital in repurposing and revitalizing TJ’s pasajes, or alleyways, which have become the ultimate bohemian destinations for art lovers living in or visiting Tijuana. She’ll enlighten us on the pasajes and the alternative art spaces that inhabit them.

Derrik Chinn is a Cincinnati-raised writer and culture vulture who now calls Tijuana his home base. There he molds young, candy-crazed minds as a middle school teacher and is the founder and operator of Turista Libre, a tour company that arranges awesome, authentic treks through Tijuana. The Jell-O shot-ready Turista Libre tour bus has taken countless people to the spots Tijuanenses experience daily, introducing outsiders to the TJ way of life and warmly inviting them to join in on the fun. Past treks include Lucha Libre fights, water park excursions, trips to the vineyards of Valle de Guadalupe and tours of TJ’s best taco stands.

Derrik will talk about the city’s fascinating transformation since the Drug Wars, it’s most exciting projects and where it can grow from here.

Karla Navarro is a chef, foodie and basically the person whose stomach is the envy of all. Follow her on Instagram (@dolphingirla) and you’ll understand why. Her food pics are the ultimate foodie porn. The Ensenada native studied at Tijuana’s Culinary Art School, honing her talent for cooking and creating meals that inspire there and in her own kitchen. She does it all for the love and passion of food, which she considers an art form.

Karla will talk to MOTM attendees about Tijuana’s culinary boom, introducing us to the restaurants we simply have to visit, the chefs creating dishes that will blow your mind, the fine wines being cultivated in Baja California and more to get your stomach growling. It’s a good thing we’ll have a taco trunk in back!

Maria Teresa Rique is the general director of the Opera de Tijuana, the city’s premiere opera company. At the Opera de Tijuana, Maria Teresa organizes and promotes its many performances and events, including the annual Opera en la Calle.

Through Opera en la Calle, Maria Teresa is able to fulfill the organization’s mission to bring lively cultural events to the people of Tijuana, giving them the opportunity to experience a piece of art that is usually reserved for the One Percenters of the world. At no cost to attendees, Opera de la Calle exposes thousands of Tijuanenses to opera and the beauty of performing arts. She’ll discuss the Opera de Tijuana’s mission, projects and continued work and the part it has played in turning Tijuana into a city rich with accessible cultural offerings. She may even have a special surprise in store. Wink, wink.

Bennett Peji is one of San Diego’s top creative minds and an expert of civic and culturally minded design, civic engagement and brand consulting. His mantra is “Form follows culture,” which he encompasses in the work he does at his firm, Bennet Peji Design, by creating branding and spaces that crosses cultural divides. He also teaches across the border, making the drive passed the San Ysidro Port of Entry on a weekly basis.

Bennett will discuss the state of the border wait, giving us all an update on the recent changes. Not only that, Bennett will explain the importance of crossing the border, both physically and philosophically.

It’s going to be a great night! We know venturing past the 94 freeway seems like traveling to Mars for some people, but we really hope you’ll make the drive and join us for this enlightening evening.

Alex Zaragoza is a freelance writer covering arts and culture in San Diego and Tijuana. She also writes the column "There She Goz" for San Diego CityBeat,...

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